After the recession of 2008 the country club industry never looked the same. The previous product offerings that were designed and beloved by the silent generation were no longer attractive to the baby boomer market. Savvy clubs have spent the last few years evolving every aspect of their physical facilities, soft programming, events and marketing to attract the next generation while balancing the needs of their members. Now, every generation is facing similar challenges and once again it provides an opportunity for Country Clubs.
Right now 97% of Americans are under shelter in place orders, hunkering down and spending time indoors. They are stuck inside with their family, browsing social media and with plenty of time to consider how their lives would be different if they lived somewhere else. And as we emerge from the current situation, their behaviors and buying preferences are sure to change. Will future homebuyers still value the hustle and bustle of a busy downtown location? Will the appeal of a closed, safe, clean and supportive club community be more attractive than ever before?
As clubs continue to pivot their marketing strategies the timing is critical to let their prospective buyers know just how much easier, simpler, and calmer life in a country club community can be, both now and in the future. Marketers all over the globe are feeling the pressure to appropriately respond to the current situation; this is a time clubs can take advantage of and make sure they have the right updates in place to prove their value to the incoming buyer class. And the way in which they choose to respond to the current situation will impact their brand perception now and for years to come.
Smart clubs in South Florida are making the needs of their membership their highest priority. Boca West Country Club is providing meal service with delivery and pickup options for all of its residents’ essential needs, including the introduction of “Pantry” offering butcher, bakery, grocery and wine needs for all resident members. While golf courses have had to close, maintenance continues during the morning hours and members are invited to walk the cart paths daily from noon until 7 pm, encouraging healthy outdoor activity while social distancing. BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens is offering a plethora of fitness classes on Facebook Live for all of their members to join from the comfort of their own homes, as well as YouTube videos of its renowned chefs teaching cooking classes online. The BallenIsles Charity Foundation has also donated their food truck for deliveries with Feed the Hungry Palm Beach County. The St. Andrews Country Club Spa in Boca Raton prepared special at-home spa treatment kits for their members to continue pampering themselves and de-stress at home. Orchid Island in Vero Beach now has a private Facebook Group for all residents to continue their fitness classes online and has been able to maintain their private beach access for members, while following social distancing requirements. Palm City’s Harbour Ridge has opened an outdoor fresh market right on property. Practicing all social distancing guidelines with personal shoppers, members do not have to leave the gates to get their essentials. The Club at Quail Ridge in Boynton Beach has designed unique take-out and delivery dining options including Dinner for Two and a special Easter Dinner menu along with a unique “Chef’s Stockroom” menu where members are invited to order anything they need that the Club has access to. And if you don’t see what you’re looking for, they invite you to ask for it anyway and they will try to get it.
Sometimes having constraints in place releases a creative energy and new ways of the thinking that are even more powerful than the status quo. Utilizing the internet and digital marketing tactics to their full advantage will allow clubs to get ahead during this transitionary period. The marketing and club worlds will look very different on the other side of this and those who understand and anticipate this shift will be able to come out even stronger on the other side.
For Country Club managers facing real estate and marketing challenges, Cotton & Company’s experienced team is ready to develop a program that resonates with the emerging market. With membership sales and real estate often going hand in hand, the Cotton Solution provides cost-effective methodology to create new interest in aging communities. Additional case studies are showcased in Solutions magazine. Sign up for the Cotton Compendium to stay updated on news relative to the real estate and private club industries.